Learning NEW Technology: The Ugh! Then The Ahhhhh!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to learn a NEW piece of software, something you either need to use or just want because a trusted source recommended it? Unless you're young and grew up in the technology age, your mind is just not programmed for this kind of understanding. Well...I guess I should speak for myself. I really have to work at it to make it happen. And the learning curve is always rather bumpy.

Last summer, blogger guru, writer and friend, Carol Baldwin asked me and one of my critique partners if we would learn WIKI, a collaborative website that allows you to communicate directly sharing files and conversations, even class assignments and homework. At the time, Carol was preparing a presentation for a September, Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
(SCBWI-C) conference and she wanted to be able to use our experiences as new WIKI users.

"It's really easy," Carol insisted, "once you get the hang of it."

Well, isn't that true of everything?

With a certain amount of reluctance, I agreed to participate. Timing was perfect because I was in the process of working with critique partner, Gretchen Griffith, to combine a presentation related to my We Bought A WWII Bomber book, with new research she had just completed involving the City of Lenoir, North Carolina's WWII contribution to the war effort. The Historical Society of Lenoir had offered us a meeting date and we were excited to be working together on the project.

Our first WIKI lesson involved learning to share messages back and forth. Unlike Dropbox, at least what we knew of Dropbox, WIKI allowed us instant back and forth as if we were talking face-to-face. As soon as I saved a comment, Gretchen was able to see my comment and give an immediate response. Our initial discussion centered on where her research would fit into my PowerPoint presentation slides and what visuals would we use.

Next we had to learn to share the PowerPoint slides. It didn't take but a few minutes, with Carol's expert guidance, to post, insert and even change my slides to accommodate Gretchen's work. Later it involved tweaking those changes and even the PowerPoint slides for consistency.

To our surprise, WIKI was working well, almost better than if we were sitting side-by-side, making the decisions and initiating the changes. The best part was we were able to do all this without one of us making the hour long trek to the others home, and fitting our time working together within a specific schedule. We were able to do it all at our convenience each sitting in our own home office.

For our project, Gretchen and I just touched the surface of all WIKI has to offer. Carol utilizes it to a much great extent when teaching writing classes, to keep track of students, their work and grades as well as a direct avenue to read, correct and critique assignments. She, as the administrator, can critique one-on-one or allow the entire class to see and critique each others work.

WIKI can also be used when sharing work in a critique group. Each critique partner can view, read and insert their suggestions for a given body of work.

So if you're looking for a way to share information, teach a class or collaborate on a project, you might give WIKI a try.

Thank you Carol for forcing me out of my comfort zone to learn a new program.

Favorite WIKI resources posted by Carol Baldwin following her SCBWIC presentation:

Check out Carol's amazing blog:

Sandra Warren
We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway. 


Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Sandra, for your shout out and for being such willing guinea pigs. And yes, most learning gets easier as we progress. Keep on with wikis and writing!

Sandra Warren said...

Gretchen and I enjoyed being forced to learn something new. Like I said, it was perfect timing for us since we had a joint presentation to prepare for.

I don't know how much I'll use it in the future but it's there when I need it.

Thanks for the push further into the computer era.


Gretchen Griffith said...

I'm all for ease of new technology, so when we worked in this wiki I was surprised at how quickly I learned. Thanks for teaching us, Carol.

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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